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ClimaLand (2022 - 2026)

Joint effects of land use and climate change on biodiversity: understanding past trends and predicting future outcomes


Land use and climate change are major threats to biodiversity globally. However, their additive and interactive impacts have been largely overlooked until now. Neglecting such potentially detrimental interaction may lead to ineffective conservation management strategies. For instance, habitat degradation because of land use intensification can be exacerbated by drought. In contrast, adjusted land management and landscape planning can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change; e.g. habitat connectivity can facilitate species range shift.

First, using open multi-sourced data, we will build and analyse spatial time-series of biodiversity, land use and climate. These data serve to statistically infer the joint effects of land use change and climate change on recent trends of species richness and composition, focusing on two well-documented taxa: birds and butterflies. Second, focusing on forested landscapes, we will quantify the relative influences that habitat dynamics and climate change have had on bird communities. Subsequently, using forest growth simulations and management optimisations, and accounting for habitat dynamics and climate change, we will identify opportunities for forest management planning to enhance habitat availability and spatio-temporal connectivity.

The proposed research will improve understanding of the mechanisms underlying past and future biodiversity trends in Finnish landscapes. We will use the results to formulate concrete recommendations for land use adaptations to climate change. The proposed project will build stronger links between science and the civil society, as it uses ‘citizen’ biodiversity data. We will produce maps of biodiversity trends and of poorly investigated geographic areas and landscape types. Such feedbacks are particularly valuable for naturalists, guiding future field inventories, and for municipalities, as they are responsible for land use zoning and have significant intervention capacity. 



Axis 1: Joint effect of land use and climate change on biodiversity trends

Question 1.1. What are the additive and interactive effects of land use and climate change on biodiversity? 

Question 1.2. Which species are more likely to be affected by the joint effect of land use and climate change?  

Question 1.3. Does the use of citizen data increase the coverage of land use and climate gradients?  

Question 1.4. Where are the remaining biodiversity knowledge gaps and how can they be communicated?  

Joint effect of land use and climate on biodiversity trends

Axis 2: Planning forest management to address landscape-scale habitat dynamics

Question 2.1. What is the response of bird communities to forest habitat dynamics and changing climate? 

Question 2.2. How land management strategies aiming at biodiversity conservation should adjust for forest habitat dynamics and climate change? 

Question 2.3. Does increasing habitat availability and stability enhance spatio-temporal connectivity?  

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